Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men's 100m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 5, 2012.

Paul Hackett/Reuters

In the 50 years since Jamaica gained its independence, the small nation has achieved an improbably high international profile, renowned for the spice of its food, the rhythms of its music and the unmatched joie-de-vie of its people.

But on Sunday, all eyes were on one sensational achievement as Jamaican Canadians packed social clubs and bars to watch their nation triumph in the men's Olympic 100-metre dash.

At the Revivaltime Tabernacle Church in north Toronto, a thousand congregants took a break from a golden jubilee service to watch the race projected on a giant screen at the front of the room. The assembled jumped up and down, pumped their fists in the air and shouted throughout the race, their cheers swelling to a deafening roar as Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake charged across the finish line, scooping up the gold and silver medals. Mr. Bolt's victory – in an Olympic record time of 9.63 seconds – came just a day after compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women's gold at the same distance.

Story continues below advertisement

The band struck up One Love, providing a soundtrack to the instant replays, as people danced with joy.

The nation's troubles, of course, are as well known as its culture. It has a brutal history of slavery, struggles economically and has a homicide rate more than 30 times that of Canada.

To many Jamaicans, these problems have only made the island's accomplishments more remarkable – including Mr. Bolt's dazzling dash.

"It's just an affirmation of the Jamaican spirit, of leadership, of strength, of not being stopped by hundreds of years of obstacles," said Denise Jones, who is just old enough to remember celebrations on that first independence day in 1962. "Every country I go to, everyone is aware of Jamaica."

Besides promoting the country abroad, expats like Ms. Jones play a vital role by sending money home to support schools, hospitals and other organizations vital to Jamaica's development.

These connections run deep in Canada. Just a day before Mr. Bolt's triumph, for instance, Jamaicans joined with their regional brethren for Toronto's Caribben Carnival, one of the largest such events in the world, on the shores of Lake Ontario.

While an official crowd count has not yet been made, spokesman Stephen Weir said attendance seemed roughly on par with the 1.1 million at last year's event. Trinidad and Tobago is also marking its 50th anniversary of independence later this month and, combined with Mr. Bolt's appeal across the region, the weekend took on even greater significance this year.

Story continues below advertisement

"It's a double whammy – there are just as many people cheering for Trinidad as Jamaica," Mr. Weir said. "[Mr. Bolt's popularity] crosses all borders in the Caribbean community – if you're from St. Vincent, if you're from Trinidad, you want him to win."

The atmosphere was only heightened Saturday by Ms. Fraser-Pryce's thrilling victory, which saw her win the sprint for the second consecutive Olympics.

Very much in evidence throughout the weekend – including at the church service – was the extent this pride has been passed down through the generations, as high-school kids stood with parents and grandparents to celebrate.

"We're all unified, we all support our country. Everybody's like family," said Lemoy Whyte, 16. "Seeing Usain Bolt break his record – it makes you want to do more."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies